Is this the UK's best family venue? What's On at Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea
- 19 August 2020
Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea is one of five family-friendly places that have been shortlisted for this year's Best Family Venue Award in our annual Fantastic for Families Awards. We spoke to them to find out more about their in-person and online activities for all ages.
We are delighted to have been shortlisted for best Family Venue alongside so many other amazing venues and projects. Making Swansea Council’s Glynn Vivian Art Gallery a family-friendly space has been one of our main priorities since we reopened in 2016, and we’re over the moon to have been recognised for our efforts.
About the gallery
Under normal circumstances, we run a range of targeted groups for our local community, alongside holiday workshops, self-led activities and free family-friendly events throughout the year. We try where possible to create intergenerational events, that bring our families audience and groups together, integrating our audiences and building new connections.
“My daughters first trip to an art gallery. 4 years old, she loves it.” - Comment book
We have sessions for parents and carers of preschool children. “Art babas” is a bilingual sensory session with singing, crafts and stories. Our Young Art force group is for home-educated children, who meet every month to work on achieving their Arts Award, while having exclusive access to the exhibitions and behind the scenes.
“To have the opportunity to work towards Arts Awards is so important for many of the children who attend “young art force” as this provides them with recognition for their abilities in a world that often highlights their perceived “deficiencies” and fails to notice their talents.” - Parent of Young Art Force Member
We also run sessions for adults over the age 55; regular workshops for adults with additional needs from the city council Local Day Service centres; projects for refugees and asylum seeker families and adults, and bespoke sessions for people living with a visual impairment. These regular classes, often in partnership with local organisations and directed by the participants, bring the gallery to life and create the atmosphere of an extended family.
“Excellent workshop. Activities suitable for all ages. They also gave the opportunity to experience further. Helpful, friendly, patient staff. All the children were engaged throughout. Bore ardderchog. Plant yn mwynhau arbrofi. Diolch yn fawr.”
We know our groups. They have grown with us over the years, helping direct what we do through regular consultation and through a connection earned through consistent contact. We listen, respond and reflect on what we are doing with feedback from our advisory panel, which we have set up in the last year to ensure the people we work with have a voice in the direction we take.
Our family events have different strands; drop in fun activities, in depth skills based workshops, self-led trails and open-ended explorations of the exhibitions and spaces that we feel extremely fortunate to illuminate. We run large scale all day events, where you might meet a Victorian adventurer, build a ship, design a costume, watch a free film, and have a dance all in the same day.
“A really fabulous venue. There is something for everyone. Check out the special exhibitions, at the Moment it is about The Mary Rose. We felt so privileged reading the info and seeing the exhibits. Ideal for Buggy's/mobility aids/ wheel chairs etc., as it is spacious and flat with a large lift. Toilet facilities, arts and crafts for children and a tea room. Staff are super helpful and the art displays are great. Entry is free but donations are happily accepted. I can't recommend this enough. It's location is not far from the railway station so easy to get to by public transport (buses stop at the railway station.” - Hazel, August 2019
We cannot think of everything, which is why we are always looking for opportunities to listen to those who don’t come through our doors, who feel that art and culture isn’t for “them”, and strive to find ways to prove them wrong.
How to take part
Now we are planning for what our programme will look like after the summer. We’ve moved our groups online; we’ve delivered materials to those who need them, and kept in touch with those who don’t have access to technology or the internet through phone calls, newsletters and printed activities and workshops.
As a small team, we knew we needed time during the summer to really evaluate what we can do for the benefit of our community and our groups. We created a Six Weeks of Summer pack for all ages, and hand delivered 70 bumper material packs to families who might not otherwise have been able to get involved, which had everything they needed to have a create.
All our workshops, activities, talks and participants responses now have a home on our new website, and through this experience we recognise the importance of keeping the connections we have worked so hard to maintain in easier times, alive when times are harder and when we all need connections the most. The internet is now so crucial to feeling connected, that we are now looking at how we can integrate this into our daily activities when we’re again able to meet in person.
The challenges ahead are in their multitude, but we are optimistic, and know that we can use this situation as an opportunity to make sure that what we do is relevant and needed for those who need art and creativity the most.